Posts Tagged ‘history’

Afternoon Tea 50s Style

Having spent a lovely weekend in London celebrating a birthday with the family and partaking of afternoon tea I realised that this is a tradition that all fifties fans should experience.

Tea drinking is a pastime closely associated with the English.

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Tea first arrived in England during Cromwell’s time and soon became the national drink.

Thomas Twining opened the first known tearoom in 1706, which remains at 216 Strand, London today.

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‘Afternoon Tea’ as a concept did not exist before the 19th century.  At that time lunch was eaten quite early in the day and dinner wasn’t served until 8 or 9 o’clock at night.  It wasn’t until Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, asked for tea and light refreshments in her room one afternoon, around 6.30pm that the ritual began. The Duchess enjoyed her ‘taking of tea’ so much that she started inviting her friends to join her.  Before long having elegant tea parties was very fashionable.   Demand for tea wares grew and soon there were tea services in silver and fine bone china, trays, cake stands, servers, tea caddies, tea strainers, teapots, and tea tables.

In the past whether you took ‘afternoon tea’ or ‘high tea’ was a peek into your social standing.  Afternoon Tea was a light elegant meal served between a light lunch and late dinner, usually between 3 o’clock and 5 o’clock, and was mainly confined to the aristocracy with their leisurely lifestyle.  High Tea was a more substantial meal, including meat and/or fish, and was really a early dinner which well suited the middle and lower classes after a long day at work.

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In the 1880s, fine hotels in both the United States and England began to offer tea service in tearooms and tea courts, and by 1910 they had begun to host afternoon tea dances as dance crazes swept both the U.S. and the UK. Tearooms of all kinds were widespread in Britain by the 1950s, but in the following decades cafés became more fashionable, and tearooms became less common.

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A tearoom was often a small room or restaurant where beverages and light meals were served, often catering chiefly to women and having a sedate or subdued atmosphere. A customer might expect to receive cream tea or Devonshire tea, often served from a china set, and a scone with jam and clotted cream – alternatively a High tea may be served which included thin savory sandwiches.

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There is a long tradition of tearooms within London hotels. For example, Browns hotel has been serving tea in its tea room for over 170 years. The Ritz, Claridges, The Dorchester and The Savoy are some of the other well-known hotels to serve afternoon tea.

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My experience in the fifties of the tearoom was a good one, maybe because we only ever had afternoon tea on an outing or if we were having visitors.  My memory is of tasty smoked salmon sandwiches and delicious scones with strawberry jam. The tea was incidental to me but I did love the china cups and plates.

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My husband says his afternoon tea at home consisted of Shipham’s fish Paste sandwiches – not pleasant – and Angel Cake.  In fact he insists that it was the dreadful afternoon tea experience that inspired him to cook.

For a Christmas present a few years ago my husband took me for afternoon tea at the Ritz. It was a fantastic room – lovely tea in silver pots, no drips of course, and a huge assortment of dainty sandwiches and cakes. I couldn’t eat again until the following day.

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The tearoom, is becoming fashionable again as everything vintage and retro is in vogue.  So readers you can go out for afternoon tea or you can recreate your own fifties ‘afternoon tea’ at home.

You obviously need lovely vintage china (there are so many lovely designs out there now), a tablecloth (preferably white and lacy) and of course the tea (my tea of choice is always Earl Grey) and the food.

To make proper tea sandwiches the bread must be very thin.  If you are slicing the bread yourself, partially freeze the bread first to make slicing easier.  You can flatten the bread further by using a rolling pin. Favorites include thinly peeled and sliced cucumber on lightly buttered white bread, egg sandwiches, smoked salmon, and thinly sliced baked ham with watercress and cream cheese.  After making the sandwiches, cut the crusts off and cut into triangles, squares, or rounds.

Cakes of course should be homemade and slices small. Add some scones, cream and strawberry jam to complete the fifties experience. Do not forget to don your tea dress!

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Happy eating (and drinking).

Selma x ♥

Pearl Bridal Jewellery – A Brief History and my Favourite Pick of the Pearls

In the 1940s and 1950s some of the most famous brides of the last century wore pearl jewellery on their wedding day – Jacqueline Kennedy, Gloria Vanderbilt, Grace Kelly and Queen Elizabeth no less. Take note ladies – pearls are clearly for the fashionable and important (that’s us of course)!

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Today on the blog I’ve gone a little pearl crazy. I’ve already been rather fascinated by pearls. There is something quite unique about them being that they’re created within the tissue of living molluscs (oysters, clams etc). It’s all very strange when you think about it! After doing a little delving into the history of pearls, I’ve got my favourite pieces of pearl jewellery – perfect for a fifties wedding.

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Now we all know Grace Kelly was 50s pearl queen, and while I say pearls were very popular in the 1950s actually they have been around for centuries. Apparently as far back as 2300 BC pearls were the prized possessions and gifts to royalty. In ancient Rome pearls highly prized and of course only reserved for the very wealthy.

In my research I came across this story about Cleopatra and pearls which I thought was rather interesting (I do love a little tale)…

The essence of the story is that Cleopatra wagered Antony that she could give the most expensive meal ever provided. When the only thing placed in front of her was a vessel of sour wine (i.e., vinegar), Antony wondered how she would be able to win the bet. Whereupon Cleopatra removed one of her pearl earrings — said by Pliny to have been worth 10 million sesterces, the equivalent of thousands of pounds of gold — and dropped it into the vinegar. The pearl dissolved in the strongly acidic solution, and Cleopatra drank it down, winning her wager.” (source)

You wouldn’t catch me swallowing any pearls mind, even for the best meal in the world (and I do love my food)!

Above - ”Cleopatra VII Dissolving Pearls in Wine,” 1866, by Frederick Augustus Sandys

Fast forward to the late 1800s and early 1900s, and techniques were discovered that could actually make oysters create pearls on demand (barmy). It was in fact a Japanese man who combined all these techniques, and today Mikimoto is known as the person who single-handedly created the worldwide cultured pearl industry. By the time we got to the 50s pearls were much easier to get hold of, and hence it became such a fashionable jewellery accessory.

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I’ve been drooling over jewellery these past few days and here are my favourite pieces of pearl jewellery…

Above – pearl and Chinese jade earrings (£24.99) from Mai Pearls

Above – pearl vintage style brooch (£30) from Queens and Bowl

Above – pearl bow bracelet (£45) from Lily Gardner via Not On the High Street.Com

Above – two peas in a pod pearl necklace (£84) from Argent of LondonAbove – vintage hair comb with pearls (£75) from Lily Millicent

Above – double strand pearl necklace (£90) from Tantrums & TiarasAbove – sterling silver pearl earrings (£91) from Lilia Nash Jewellery via Not On the High Street.Com

Above – 14k gold pearl flower earrings (£65) from Passionate About Vintage

Above – sterling silver droplet earrings (£36) from Chez Bec

Above – white baroque and pearl necklace (£115) from Astley Clarke

Above – pearl cuff (£225) from Hermione Harbutt

There is something very special about pearls.

Have a lovely weekend everyone. I’m hosting my mum’s birthday lunch tomorrow and am so excited! I’m off to prepare the starter now (no clues as I know you will be reading this mum). I just hope my brother doesn’t forget the champagne.

Finally, to all those getting married this weekend – congratulations and enjoy!

Charlie x

Air Travel in the Fifties

In the 1950s flying was the province of the rich and was seen as incredibly glamorous.

Air travel was not a common form of transport in the early 50s. Aircraft were powered by propellers and their cabins were un-pressurised. As a result, plane trips were bumpy and noisy and aircraft could not fly at very high altitudes. Aeroplane trips were also long, with frequent stops to refuel. This however all changed towards the end of the era when commercial jet travel was introduced.

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So although in 1958 Qantas became the first airline in the world to introduce a regular round-the-world service, it was the transatlantic route that was prized and became synonymous with wealth and glamour.

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A couple of weeks ago I watched a really good documentary about Pan Am. This readers, was an American airline which sadly no longer exists. It flew across the USA, across continents and most importantly for us Brits, across the Atlantic. No small wonder it seemed glamorous – the Air Stewardesses were so smart in tailored blue uniforms with pillar-box hats and white gloves. Girdles were compulsory and each girl was checked for weight, uniform and general appearance before each flight.

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We in the UK had our own glamorous airline BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation).

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On October 26, 1958, amid much fanfare, Pan American inaugurated its New York-London route, ushering in a new era in the history of passenger aviation. On the very first flight, which made a stopover in Newfoundland, there were 111 passengers – the largest number ever to board a single regularly scheduled flight. The airline introduced true intercontinental service with nonstop London-to-New York flights on August 26, 1959.

BOAC, however, on October 3, issued a sudden announcement. The next day, two new Comet IVs would inaugurate its transatlantic service. One would take off from London and refuel at the Canadian staging post of Gander on Newfoundland before carrying on to New York. A second aircraft would fly from New York’s Idlewild Airport (JFK) to London. The eastbound Comet, aided by strong tailwinds, would not require refuelling, making the journey in one hop. A flustered Pan American issued a press release questioning the Comet’s ability to mount a viable service. Basil Smallpiece, managing director of BOAC, dismissed the claim in invincibly British style as “rather poor sportsmanship”.

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Brian Barnett was at home on Friday October 3 when the phone rang. Twenty-two years old and an employee of Esso, he had previously travelled no farther than the Isle of Man. Now, a newspaper was telling him that he was about to make history. He had won a competition in which readers were asked to come up with a catchy slogan for the Comet. “Comet IV — ace of space in the trans-Atlantic race,” was his entry. Mr. Barnett was told to get a passport and a smallpox vaccination and turn up at London Airport the following day. Twenty-fours later, he was 40,000 feet above the Atlantic in de-luxe class.

It was unbelievable, a dream. I was elated,” he recalled. “It was the highlight of my life. It was a jet plane and I’d never been on a jet plane.”

The westbound Comet left London at 8.45am and took 10 hours, 22 minutes to reach Idlewild, including the stop at Gander. The eastbound Comet reached London in a record-breaking six hours, 11 minutes.

On that Comet flight were china, crystal and silver. Passengers were served with Madeira and coffee, then cocktails, then luncheon with superb wines. Afternoon tea of scones, jam and cream and liquors followed, and then, as the flight approached New York, champagne and canapés. People didn’t need films and music — they were too busy dining.

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The Comet was equipped with reclining seats and, according to Mr. Barnett, not much noisier than modern aircraft. There was nothing so vulgar as economy. Passengers had a choice of de-luxe or first class. De-luxe, spaced at 56 inches per seat, cost £173 one-way (£2,914 in today’s money); first class was the equivalent of £2,610. A return journey in de-luxe would have cost Mr Barnett more than half his annual salary of £600. Flight Magazine waxed lyrical about the aircraft’s interior…

The Comet’s décor is a work of art, a masterpiece of design so subtle that print can but inadequately convey the pleasure it gives. Worth quoting is the reaction of an American lady passenger: ‘My,’ she said. ‘Isn’t this the dreamiest?’”

BOAC with Pan Am would go on to dominate the London-New York route in the1960s and early 1970s, but when it came to airliners the Americans were the long-term winners. The Comet, with its limited passenger capacity, was no match for the 707 and its other US rival, the Douglas DC8. Within a few years the Comet was gone from BOAC service, replaced by the 707 and later the 747, the true instrument of mass intercontinental air travel.

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I never even went near an aeroplane until I was seventeen, but once I tasted the magic I was hooked. I just love flying. I love airports and any trip to foreign parts, for me, is just pure joy and exciting.  So lets try and recreate the glamour of fifties flying.

For me the airport experience is exciting and still glamorous. So readers for those who have a honeymoon to look forward to or indeed any trip lets make it a fifties experience.

If you can afford it then BA’s Business class – First Class if you are really splashing out – will immediately make you feel special. You get the lounge access so the whole airport experience and flight are special.

However, even if you can’t stretch the finances, dress up in your best vintage clothes, gloves essential with perfect make-up and nails. At the airport sit at the champagne bar and sip a glass with some caviar, board the plane with a glamorous magazine and lovely handbag, and just let your imagination do the rest.

I will be doing the latter on my trip to NewYork next month, I can’t fault BA’s staff though who always make me feel special and never part of the herd.

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Victoria Beckham is only missing the white gloves and hat.

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Above Grace Kelly is looking perfect for travelling in 50s chic.

…and how about these vintage-inspired flight attendants – this today’s BA look. We all just love the fifties style…

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Happy Flying!

Selma x ♥

 

 

1950s Ads & Commercials

I was watching a recorded TV programme last week, fast forwarding through all the commercials. It got me thinking about how much I used to really enjoy the ads, so much so that I often turned on ITV just to watch them – many I knew by heart. OK readers no weddings but very fifties!!

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So it’s a trip down memory lane readers back to the commercials of the 1950s, courtesy of Turnipnet, and some fifties ads. Of course being a child at the time I did not notice how sexist the ads were – just take a look.

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See what I mean?? Now lets look at the TV ads.

The first commercial shown on TV in Britain was for Gibbs S R Toothpaste and was transmitted at 8.12 pm on Sept 22 1955 during a variety show hosted by Jack Jackson. Viewers saw a tube of toothpaste embedded in a block of ice and a woman called Meg Smith brushing her teeth in the approved manner, “up and down and round the gums”. The immaculate tones of Alex Macintosh delivered the newly-minted slogan: “It’s tingling fresh. It’s fresh as ice. It’s Gibbs SR toothpaste.”

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The commercial owed its prime placing to chance. The Gibbs advertisement had come first in a lottery drawn with 23 other advertisements, including those for Guinness, Surf, National Benzole, Brown & Polson Custard and Summer County Margarine.

I can still remember the Jingle for Murray Mints, “Murray Mints, the too-good-to-hurry mints. Why make haste? When you can taste the hint of mint in Murray Mints (1955).”

The Jingle was recorded by Cliff Adams and the Stargazers who appeared on Sunday Night at the London Palladium about three months after the start of commercial television. They took a chance and ended their act on what they called their ‘latest recording’. They came on in bearskins and re-enacted the commercial on the stage. Then they pulled off the bearskins and inside them they had packets of Murray Mints which they threw to the audience. It caused a sensation, and showed the power that commercials had, even within three months.

Then there was Rice Krispies – Snap, Crackle and Pop (1955), and don’t forget the Fruit Gums Mum! (1956) .

 

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The authorities later forced Rowntrees to change the slogan because of unfair pressure on mums. They cleverly came up with “don’t forget the fruit gums, chum” instead.

1956 saw one of my favourites, and many other childrens’, Brooke Bond PG Tips which starred the Brooke Bond chimps. The first of these adverts was set in an elegant country house and showed an immaculately dressed ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ sitting at a Regency table and drinking tea from a silver service in dainty china cups. The voiceover came from Peter Sellers.

One of the most iconic ads of the fifties was “Go to Work on an Egg!”

When the British Egg Marketing Board launched the ‘Go to Work on an Egg’ ads, no-one could have anticipated just how famous they would become. The 1950s ads starred Tony Hancock, the legendary comedian, and the ‘Go to work on an egg’ slogan is attributed to Fay Weldon, although she claims she was just the manager of the team who created the famous line. Tony Hancock is probably most famous for Hancock’s Half Hour which kicked off in November 1954, becoming a British institution for almost two decades.

Watch Hancock in action, along with Patricia Hayes and Pat Coombs – eight of the ads from the original Go to Work on an Egg campaign are available.

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Also in 1956 Sooty promoted Oxo and we were told ‘Don’t say brown, say Hovis’ and ‘You’ll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent’.

In 1957 we were told that ‘the Esso sign means happy motoring’ and that Fairy Snow gives ‘washday white without washday red’ – a dig at powders which caused skin rashes.

1958 introduced us to the long running Oxo series starring ‘Katie’ and ‘Philip’. The first ‘Katie’ was Mary Holland and the first ‘Philip’ was Richard Clarke, followed by Peter Moynihan. Everything revolved around dinner as Katie informed Philip that Oxo has nine good ingredients and ‘gives a meal man appeal’.

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Also in this year we were told by Bernard Miles that Mackeson ‘looks good, tastes good and, by golly, it does you good’. Fry’s Turkish Delight (jingle by Cliff Adams) showed a male slave unrolling a carpet containing a glamorous female captive in front of an Eastern ruler who began feeding him lumps of Turkish Delight which was said to be ‘Full of Eastern promise’.

1959 saw the soap powder war hot up as the White Tide Man faced Mrs. Bradshaw. White Tide was claimed to ‘get your clothes clean. Not only clean but deep-down clean’ while Surf featured Mrs. Bradshaw with her pile of washing who would declare ‘Hold it up to the light. Not a stain and shining bright!’.

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We could be sure of Shell. Domestos was busy ‘killing all known germs in one hour’ and the question of the year was ‘Can you tell Stork from butter?’ ( I remember them all)

There were many ads for cigarettes, an example was; “You’re never alone with a Strand (1959)”.

This jingle was again written by Cliff Adams. The actor was Terence Brooks who looked like Frank Sinatra, standing on a street in London, wearing a trench coat, with a hat on the back of his head, stopping to light a cigarette. This was followed by the theme tune. As soon as the commercial went on the air, enquiries started coming in, people ringing up and asking if there was a record of the music available. So Cliff Adams quickly went to a studio and recorded “The Lonely Man Theme”.

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It’s quite extraordinary how I can remember the bylines – brain washing I suppose!

Of course some of our own Fifties Wedding Icons featured in commercials and ads. Look at these with Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor.

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Have a good week all.

Selma xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1950s Toys

Every year at this time the top 10 Christmas toy list is compiled, and looking at it I thought how bland these toys seemed – no spark to set off any imagination and they seem very flimsy.  So naturally I thought back to my childhood in the 1950s.  Now  readers, I know you are interested in this era, but what, I imagine you are saying has it got to do with weddings.

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Well, read on. If you are going to recreate the true retro look then all those little extra’s scattered around the wonderful marquees and venues and on tables to keep all those children amused need to be authentic.  So I have got some wonderful little treats for you (and the groom of course) and your younger guests and indeed all your older nostalgic guests . Lets just say we all like a bit of fun.

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Toys in the 1950s were a treat. You didn’t have many – you didn’t need many – it was all about using your toys to create an adventure, get your imagination skills going.  So when my brothers played with Dinky Cars, they created whole streets around them. I built the houses with my Bayko building sets.  My pride and joy – whatever happened to Bayko?

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The boys equivalent was Meccano, an amazing metal building set with screws and nuts. You could build all sorts of things and we all spent hours constructing cranes and odd contraptions all used in our game playing stories.

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Meccano, as mentioned, was a model construction system comprising re-usable metal strips, plates, angle girders, wheels, axles and gears, with nuts and bolts to connect the pieces. It enabled the building of working models and mechanical devices.

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Then there were the Airfix kits. These they used as fighter planes, and I remember strange sounds coming from my two brothers as they launched their attacks.

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The brand name Airfix was selected to be the first alphabetically in any toy catalogue. In 1947, Airfix introduced injection moulding, initially producing pocket combs. In 1949, it was commissioned to create a promotional model of a Ferguson TE20 tractor. The model was initially moulded in cellulose acetate plastic and hand assembled for distribution to Ferguson sales representatives. To increase sales and lower productions costs, the model was sold in kit form by Woolworth’s retail stores.

A few years later in 1954, Woolworth buyer Jim Russon suggested to Airfix that they produce a model kit of Sir Francis Drake’s Golden Hind, then being sold in North America as a ‘ship-in-a-bottle’. The kit would be made in the more stable polystyrene plastic. In order to meet Woolworth’s retail price of 2 shillings, Airfix changed the packaging from a cardboard box to a plastic bag with a paper header which also included the instructions. It was a huge success and led the company to produce new kit designs. The first aircraft kit was released in 1955, a model of the Supermarine Spitfire, in 1/72 scale.

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Forts & toy soldiers formed battle lines and my brother Jonathan would literally spend all day lost in a world of  knights and medieval life.  He became a Writer and Actor, good training you might say.

A present at Christmas was a real big deal. However, you didn’t need expensive gifts. I spent many happy hours playing with paper dolls and creating dresses for them made out of old wallpaper books.

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Marbles, Hoola Hoops and skipping ropes were to be found in all the school playgrounds too.

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So here are my suggestions, a top ten list for you to keep your guests amused at your wedding – could be lots of fun?

Mr Potato Head, Jacks, Playdoh, spinning tops, yoyos,  kaleidoscopes, Tiddly Winks, slinkys, comics and fifties quiz cards.

Have fun!

 

Selma x ♥

TV Nostalgia from the 1950s (Part 2)

I continue my trip down memory lane readers, as I am feeling very nostalgic for another glimpse of fifties television (click here for Part 1).

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In the 50s the hours people watched television were tightly controlled. The Postmaster General stipulated how many hours of television could be shown each week. In 1956, for example, the BBC was allowed to broadcast television on weekdays between 9am and 11pm, with not more than 2 hours before 1pm. There was also a period between 6pm and 7pm when no television was broadcast. This period was used by parents to trick young children into thinking that the evening’s television had finished so they would go to bed without complaint – it was known as the ‘toddlers truce’. At the weekends, the rules were no more relaxed. A maximum of eight hours broadcasting was allowed on Saturdays and just under 8 hours hours on Sunday. On Sunday another anachronism reigned – television shown between 2pm and 4pm was intended for adults. Children were meant to be at Sunday School! Gradually the rules on broadcasting hours were made less strict. The ‘toddlers truce’, for example, was dropped in 1957.

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Television went through three major changes between 1950 and 1969. The first came in 1955. Up until then only BBC1 could be received. This was known as Band I. In 1955 Band III – or ITV was introduced. All sets sold before then would not receive the new channel without being converted. ITV was popular with the public and many people bought new sets or had older ones converted. By 1959, 60% of households could watch ITV and by 1961, 80%.

When ITV came along in 1955 television changed. The commercial pressure on ITV meant that the emphasis shifted towards more ‘popular’ programmes – quiz shows, soap opera and more light entertainment – although ITV did not shun the more serious programmes altogether. The first ever programme broadcast by ITV was a short piece by the Halle Orchestra.

Of the programmes shown by ITV in the early years, the quiz show “Take your Pick” hosted by Michael Miles always drew a big viewing. Contestants were picked from volunteers from the audience. They would answer questions to win a key to a box. Michael Miles would then try to buy the key back off them by offering up to £20. The contestant could choose to accept the money or open the box. He or she might get a prize or the booby prize of no value – they had to take a gamble. Some of the prizes were fantastic for the era – cars, trips to Australia and a fully fitted kitchen were given away.

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I just loved Take Your Pick and even had my own board game of the show.

My first series I remember watching on ITV was the hospital drama “Emergency Ward 10″, this I loved – I can even remember the music. The quiz show “Double your money”, “Opportunity Knocks” and of course “Sunday Night at the London Palladium” were other essential viewings.

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ITV also imported programmes from America. The comedy “I Love Lucy” staring Lucy and Desi Arnaz had huge audiences in America and was just as successful over here.

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In the early days of ITV the people deserted the BBC in droves. Within the first few years of broadcasting, ITV was taking around 70% of viewers from the BBC. The BBC had to change to survive and became more populist. The BBC had it’s own cop show – “Dixon of Dock Green” which was first broadcast on July 1955 – before ITV began. They also converted the hit radio comedy “Hancock’s Half Hour” to television.

Hancock’s Half Hour (Source)

It was this period  in which firm favourites were established for particular kinds of programme that are still just as popular today – the police drama, the hospital drama, the quiz show, the comedy show etc

These are all evening shows. At the weekend the Sunday film was a popular hit as was “Grandstand” shown on Saturday afternoon.

I watched the very first episode of Coronation Street, where a character Ena Sharples was introduced, what strange memories we have, this though was in 1960 so its time to stop reminiscing.

Well readers I hope you have all enjoyed this trip down memory lane. Isn’t it so different today?

Selma x ♥

Television Nostalgia from 1950s (Part 1)

All this nostalgia for the 1950s got me thinking about my childhood and amongst my memories is of course our first TV.  It is fair to say that most people just had a radio in the early part of the decade but the Queen’s coronation in 1953 narrated by Richard Dimbleby (father of David & Jonathan Dimbleby – stalwarts of today’s TV) spurred many households into buying or renting a TV.

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A lot of families rented. The reasons were often two-fold – the expense of an outright purchase and equally important the unreliability of the equipment.

My husband says that the TV repairman was at his house so often that his mum would often set a place for him at dinner, and they were so busy, they often worked evenings.

We didn’t get our first TV until at least 1956.  I remember it well. It was very small compared to today’s enormous screens. It was an odd beige colour standing on 4 thin legs with a couple of gold control knobs. I cannot tell you how excited we all were it was a real big deal. Of course the picture was black and white but it was an entry into a whole new world. My father allowed us to watch a maximum amount of 1 hour a day to start with – Children’s TV only.

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I used to ‘Listen with Mother, a 15 minute radio programme each lunchtime, so now I could actually see my favourite characters. The first words that the series began with…

Are you sitting comfortably, then let us begin.

I have wonderful memories of ‘Watch with mother on BBC’ and picture book on Mondays.

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It was a posh lady turning the pages of a large book, talking in a softly spoken voice about what she had found on the page. Sounds dull but it was great.

Andy Pandy was on Tuesday, along with Teddy and Looby Loo.

 

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Bill and Ben on Wednesday’s, with of course little Weed. They were two men who lived in flowerpots at the bottom of the garden who came out to play with Weed when the gardener went for his lunch.

 

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Rag Tag & Bobtail was on Thursday and Friday was  The Woodentops.  I think they were all at 1.30pm. Lunch was over and I would sit on the floor and be transported into these new worlds that somehow was different from my books - television heaven.

I progressed eventually to Children’s Hour and Ivanhoe, Robin Hood and The Lone Ranger.

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My favourite cartoon was Popeye with his sidekick Olive Oyl. My mother approved as it encouraged me to eat spinach (Popeye’s super food) – as a child I refused to eat any vegetables.

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Do take a peak at this first episode of  Popeye.

Eventually we were allowed a little more viewing time but nothing after 7pm.

At the beginning of the fifties, television was a luxury item – only 350,000 households had a television set. By 1960, nearly three quarters of the population had television, and by the end of the sixties, nearly ninety-five percent. In the space of a few years television had gone from being a rarity to being almost universal. For every generation born since the 50s, television has been taken for granted as part of our lives.

It is certainly true that in the years following the Queen’s Coronation in 1953, the proportion of households with television sets went up rapidly – from 14% in 1952, to 21% in 1953 and 31% in 1954.

Anyone else out there with memories of favourite programmes?

Come back for more nostalgia next week readers.

Selma

xx

Wedding Superstitions: The reception and Beyond

This is my final instalment in this series about wedding superstations and wedding traditions (click here for Part 1 on the engagement, Part 2 on wedding dates and Part 3 on the wedding day).

Ok readers you have finally tied the knot.

© Matt Foden Photograhy

If are truly superstitious you got married on a Wednesday, in any month except March, May or July.

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You found a spider in your wedding dressed, you borrowed, you bought new, you had the chimney sweep, the confetti – its all looking great – but, we still have the reception and honeymoon to contend with. What can still go wrong??

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Sharing a meal after the wedding ceremony may have been seen as confirmation of the new status of the bride and groom, but in Roman times, until the wedded couple had shared bread together, the marriage was not legally binding.

The wedding cake symbolises union and allows the guests to share in the couple’s happiness. Today, it forms the focal point at the reception, although it was not always intended to be eaten. The wedding Cake was originally lots of little wheat cakes that were broken over the Bride’s head to bestow good luck and fertility. The Romans made small individual cakes from wheat flour, water and salt, which were eaten while the service was in progress. Early versions of today’s iced and tiered cakes were introduced to Britain from France in 1660, with the fruits and grains symbolising fertility.

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A well-known tradition is for the bride and groom to make the first cut in the cake together. The groom places his right hand over the right hand of his bride. Her left hand is then placed on top, and she places the knife at the centre of the bottom cake tier and slowly cuts the cake, with the help of the groom. The cake being cut is then shared with the guests. The top tier is set aside for the christening of the couple’s first baby.

If a bride tastes the wedding cake before it is cut, she will forfeit her husband’s love.  If she saves a piece of the cake, it ensures his fidelity

Bridesmaids kept their slice and placed it under their pillow, in the belief that they would dream of their future husband.

After the reception the bride throws her bouquet back over her shoulder where the unmarried female guests group together. Tradition holds that the one who catches the bouquet will be the next one of those present to marry.

© Matt Foden Photography

A parallel custom is for the groom to remove the garter worn by the bride and throw it back over his shoulder toward the unmarried male guests. Again the one who catches it will be the next to marry.

When a groom used to capture his bride, they would hide from her family until the search was called off. Then after they were married, they would hide for one full cycle of the moon, drinking honey, hence ‘honeymoon’.

After the wedding the bride must enter the new marital home through the main entrance. It is traditional for the groom to carry the bride over the threshold when they enter for the first time. The reason for this is uncertain. One explanation is that the bride will be visited by bad luck if she falls when entering. An alternative is that the bride will be unlucky if she steps into the new home with the left foot first. The bride can avoid both mishaps by being carried. A third explanation is that it symbolises the old Anglo-Saxon custom of the groom stealing his bride and carrying her off.

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Hindus have a similar tradition. The bride is carried by her new husband so that she does not touch the threshold when entering her new home.

So readers good luck with all your planning. It’s all just a bit of fun I think.

I got married on a Saturday in February, no chimney sweep or spider and am still married !!

Selma

xx

 

Wedding Planning, Avoiding Bad Luck: Wedding Superstitions

Well readers if you have been taking note of suitable times and dates for your upcoming wedding from my  previous two posts (on engagement traditions and wedding date superstitions), then to make your day even more lucky read on. In fact read on anyway – even the non-superstitious amongst you will smile at some of the historical wedding superstitions that still exist.  

© Matt Foden Photography

Colours

Choosing colours for the Bride and her Maids is fraught – note the following rhyme.

Married in:

White – You’ve chosen all right

Blue – Your love is true

Pearl – You’ll live in a whirl

Brown – You’ll live out of town

Red – You will wish yourself dead

Yellow – You’re ashamed of your fellow

Green – Ashamed to be seen

Pink – Your fortunes/spirits will sink

Grey – You’ll live far away

Black – You’ll wish yourself back

With the exception of the Irish bride, it is supposedly bad luck to wear green.

Creepy Crawlies

Now onto a superstition about creepy crawlies. If the bride finds a spider in her dress, this is a sign of good luck.

Source

Well-Known Superstitions

Then of course as all brides know:

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence in your shoe.

This well known superstition originated in Victorian times. Something new represents future health, happiness and success. Also make sure you return the ‘Something borrowed’ to ensure good luck. ’Something blue’ – it was in ancient Israel, where the bride wore a blue ribbon as a symbol of her fidelity, that the custom of wearing ‘something blue’ originated.

Good wealth was wished for by placing ‘a silver sixpence in your shoe.

A glance in the mirror just before the fully-dressed bride leaves for her wedding is considered good luck, but should she return and look again, this is considered bad luck.

© Dave & Charlotte

The Wedding Party

Bridesmaids dressed similarly to the bride are to ward off and confuse the evil spirits about the identity of the real bride.

The groom and his party also beware – the, groom, best man, male family members and best friends should wear similar suits to ward off and confuse the evil spirits as to the real identity of the groom.

© Matt Foden Photography

The Best Man

The best man was traditionally responsible for ensuring the groom’s good luck in the following three ways:

-The groom must carry a lucky mascot in his pocket;

- The groom must not return home for any reason after leaving for the ceremony; and

- The minister should be given an odd sum of money for his fee.

The Wedding Day

So eventually we will come to the wedding day itself – ‘at long last’ – I hear you say. Readers beware though – you are still not safe. Today couples often live together before getting married, but it is still considered unlucky for the bride and groom to see each other on the day of the wedding until they meet at the altar.

Ideally, the groom should also wear a flower that appears in the bridal bouquet in his button-hole. This stems from medieval times, when a knight wore his Lady’s colours as a declaration of his love. Some flowers are symbolic. For example, orange blossom signifies loveliness, purity and chastity, while a red chrysanthemum means ‘I love you’.

A uniquely British, and somewhat unusual, superstition is having a chimney sweep present at the wedding for good luck; it is not unknown for some couples employ a sweep to attend their wedding. This apparently dates back to the time of King George III. The king was riding his horse in a royal procession when a dog suddenly appeared and started biting his horse’s legs, causing him to lose control of his rearing mount. A man rushed out from the crowd, regained control of the horse, and disappeared back into the crowd. Later, when the procession had ended, the King wanted to thank personally the man he believed had saved his life. All that he could discover about the mystery man was his occupation, that of a chimney sweep. The king decreed that from that day all chimney sweeps should be considered as lucky.

Source

So at long long last the ceremony has taken place and as you leave the venue you are showered in confetti. The throwing of symbolic ‘confetti’ over the couple as they leave the marriage ceremony dates back to ancient times, with the type of ‘confetti’ changing over the years. The word confetti is Italian for sweets or confectionary. Rice, grains, nuts, sweets and petals, were commonly used to enhance fertility, richness, good luck and sweet experiences.

© Tobias Key Photography

We conclude the last of this four part romp into wedding history next week when we finish with a few all important superstitions at the reception. I hope no one has been put off planning their wedding!!

Selma x ♥

Wedding Date Superstitions – Choose your Wedding Date Carefully!

If you are superstitious then keep reading as choosing the wedding date could be fraught with worry!

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Ancient Romans studied pig entrails to determine the luckiest time to marry.

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Sunday used to be the most popular wedding day, as it was the one day most people were free from work. Puritans in the Seventeenth Century put a stop to this, however, believing it was improper to be festive on the Sabbath. Today, Saturdays are the busiest, despite the rhyme 
below.

Yes indeed the day on which a wedding is to be held is steeped with superstitions.

Marry on a:

Monday – brides will be healthy

Tuesday – brides will be wealthy

Wednesday – brides do best of all

Thursday – brides will suffer losses

Friday – brides will suffer crosses

Saturday – brides will have no luck at all

Friday, especially Friday 13th, is considered as an unlucky day to marry on.

Source

As for the time of year, the saying ‘Marry in the month of May, and you’ll live to rue the day’ dates back to Pagan times. May, the start of summer, was dedicated to outdoor orgies, hardly the best way to begin married life! Queen Victoria is said to have banned her children from marrying in May, and Nineteenth Century Vicars were rushed of their feet on April 30th because Brides refused to marry during May.

The sun has always been associated with sexual stimulation and, therefore future fertility. In Scotland it was traditional for the Bride to ‘walk with the sun’, proceeding from east to west on the south side of the church and then circling the Church three times ‘sunwise’ for good luck.

Months have their good and bad omens too as seen from the following rhyme.

Married when the year is new, he’ll be loving, kind & true,


When February birds do mate, you wed nor dread your fate.


If you wed when March winds blow, joy and sorrow both you’ll know.


Marry in April when you can, Joy for Maiden & for Man.


Marry in the month of May, and you’ll surely rue the day.


Marry when June roses grow, over land and sea you’ll go.


Those who in July do wed, must labour for their daily bred.


Whoever wed in August be, many a change is sure to see


Marry in September’s shrine, your living will be rich and fine.


If in October you do marry, love will come but riches tarry.


If you wed in bleak November, only joys will come, remember.


When December snows fall fast, marry and true love will last.

You may also want to consult your horoscope.

Source

Here’s another rhyme which might help.

Married in January’s roar and rime, 
Widowed you’ll be before your prime. 
Married in February’s sleepy weather,
Life you’ll tread in time together.
Married when March winds shrill and roar,
Your home will lie on a distant shore.
Married ‘neath April’s changeful skies, 
A checkered path before you lies.
Married when bees o’er May blossoms flit,
Strangers around your board will sit.
Married in month of roses June,
Life will be one long honeymoon.
Married in July with flowers ablaze,
Bitter-sweet memories in after days.
Married in August’s heat and drowse,
Lover and friend in your chosen spouse.
Married in September’s golden glow,
Smooth and serene your life will go.
Married when leaves in October thin, 
Toil and hardships for you begin.
Married in veils of November mist, 
Fortune your wedding ring has kissed. 
Married in days of December’s cheer, 
Love’s star shines brighter from year to year.

Source

Well readers I am sure whatever date you choose will be perfect. I myself am not superstitious…I think?!

What month are you all getting married?

Selma x ♥

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